Welcome to the Church
Hymn: Tis 106 Now thank we all our God.
Call to Worship
Happy are those who delight in hearing the word of God.
Happy are those who meditate on God’s word day and night.
They are like trees planted by streams of water,
Trees that bear fruit at the right time.
Their leaves do not wither
They grow and flourish in all that they do.
(Based on Psalm 1)
Prayer of Adoration
(Based on Jesus Prayer in John 17)
Loving God, we praise you and adore you
For you have reached out to us,
through your Word, Jesus Christ.
We are amazed by the wonders of God made flesh
and we thank you for drawing us into the divine embrace;
into the unity of Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
We thank you for watching over us,
and keeping us safe from the distractions and false ways of the world.
Your Word of truth to us is a source of love, and joy
and your promise of abundant eternal life gives us a hope.
You God are like a gardener who plants precious people
into the world,
so that we can flourish and reflect your graciousness
for all people to see.
Prayer of Confession and Declaration of Forgiveness
God, there are days when we feel out of sorts,
we feel things are going wrong,
that the spark of faith is fading
we are not living well,
and we find ourselves running into obstacles
that get in the way of our communion with you.
We begin to doubt the promises made to us through the Spirit and the Word
and our desire to walk the way of peace dwindles into obligation
and feels more like servitude than service.
In these times is seems easier to checkout and leave
rather than use our decreasing energy and resources
to persist in the journey.
On such days, God of salvation, pray for us.
Brothers and Sisters in Christ
We belong, we have a place in which we will always be secure and safe, our enthusiasm, or lack of it, is not what delivers us into this sanctuary, it is God’s steadfast promise to us that invites us in and holds us here. Let this assurance refresh and renew us in our living journey of faith.
In Christ our lacking, our doubts, and our missteps
are all forgiven.
Thanks be to God.
Hymn: Tis 547 Be thou my vision, O lord of my heart
Bible Readings: John 17:6-21 and Psalm 1
6 “I have revealed you to those whom you gave me out of the world. They were yours; you gave them to me and they have obeyed your word. 7 Now they know that everything you have given me comes from you. 8 For I gave them the words you gave me and they accepted them. They knew with certainty that I came from you, and they believed that you sent me. 9 I pray for them. I am not praying for the world, but for those you have given me, for they are yours. 10 All I have is yours, and all you have is mine. And glory has come to me through them. 11 I will remain in the world no longer, but they are still in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, protect them by the power of your name, the name you gave me, so that they may be one as we are one. 12 While I was with them, I protected them and kept them safe by that name you gave me. None has been lost except the one doomed to destruction so that Scripture would be fulfilled.
13 “I am coming to you now, but I say these things while I am still in the world, so that they may have the full measure of my joy within them. 14 I have given them your word and the world has hated them, for they are not of the world any more than I am of the world. 15 My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one. 16 They are not of the world, even as I am not of it. 17 Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth. 18 As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world. 19 For them I sanctify myself, that they too may be truly sanctified.
20 “My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, 21 that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me.
1 Blessed is the one
who does not walk in step with the wicked
or stand in the way that sinners take
or sit in the company of mockers,
2 but whose delight is in the law of the Lord,
and who meditates on his law day and night.
3 That person is like a tree planted by streams of water,
which yields its fruit in season
and whose leaf does not wither—
whatever they do prospers.
4 Not so the wicked!
They are like chaff
that the wind blows away.
5 Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment,
nor sinners in the assembly of the righteous.
6 For the Lord watches over the way of the righteous,
but the way of the wicked leads to destruction.
If you have been blessed with children you may recall how stressful it was to leave your precious darlings at home all by themselves for the very first time. As you go to walk out the door the last-minute instructions go something like this, “do you have my number, do you know how to phone emergency, good , now don’t open the door to anyone, do you have my number, ring me if you are worried or if anything happens and remember don’t open the door to anyone even if the person says they have a message from me,….okay… do you know how to ring 000?” and on it goes, you may repeat these vitally important things a few more times before you actually step out the door. Under stress and torn apart by your deep love for your kids and the need to leave them your last words before you go out the door are messy.
The passage from John we hear today has been described as a messy prayer. In this section of Jesus’ farewell discourse, he prays from the heart, out of deep love and concern for the disciples he will have to leave behind. They will feel like they are all alone and they will soon experience the despair, confusion, and terror of seeing their Lord, arrested, condemned, and crucified. The days and weeks ahead will be bumpy to say the least, they will hide in fear, they will hear stories about the risen Christ and finally they will all see him and believe, and then he will leave them once more, to ascend into heaven to be with God.
So it is easy to see why this heart felt prayer of Jesus’ tumbles out in such a messy way; as a collection of short, blunt sentences that have an awkward flow. Many commentators suggest that Jesus prayer is good news for us, particularly if we are concerned about the quality of our own prayers. Jesus show us that prayers don’t have to be pretty; God is not concerned with our grammar or how neat or concise our prayers are. There are many other treasures within this prayer of Jesus but before we draw some of them out I would like to read the prayer to you again using The Message translation, some abbreviations and some modern interpretation. Jesus prays..
I have spelled out in detail your character
to all the men and women you gave me.
The followers you have given me have realised the truth.
They know beyond the shadow of a doubt
that everything I have said and done is from you.
They are convinced that I came from you
and that you sent me.
I pray for them.
I am not praying for the wider self-absorbed world,
the world of injustice, violence, greed, and division.
I pray for the ones you have given me.
My life is on display in them, may they be one as we are one.
Holy Father, protect them from those who would draw them away
from the love, hope and joy they have shared with me in you.
Protect them from the distractions and temptations of the self-absorbed world.
Make them holy- consecrated- with the truth,
In the same way that you gave me a mission in the world,
I give them a mission in the world.
Let them live in the light of your love and reflect that love brightly in the world.
May the world see and know that you have sent me.
Now it does strike me that I am being a bit cheeky in calling Jesus prayer ‘messy’ and in using modern language to reword it, however this prayer is not ‘just’ a private prayer that we, along with the disciples have the privilege of listening in to. It is also a collection of core teachings for anyone who takes up the challenge to follow Jesus and hear his call to mission. It is interesting to note that in the other gospel stories, in Matthew, Mark and Luke, Jesus final prayer is not overheard by his followers. So, it is clear that in John, the narrator has employed this prayer to draw us once again into the mystery of the Word, The Word who was with God in the beginning and was God and whom through all things came into being; the Word, that became flesh and lived among us, our Lord, Jesus Christ. Without realising this truth, the truth that consecrates us for mission, we can do nothing.
Like a parent walking out the door and giving their child the “must do’ list of instructions, Jesus’ prayer contains the things the disciples will need to remember, both in the dark days ahead and throughout their life- long mission to bring God’s word to all people. I can imagine them thinking back to this night and recalling that they have been sent as Jesus was sent, they may also recall that above all things unity amongst the believers is a must.
Over the last few Sundays we have heard this theme in John again and again. Two weeks ago the unity was expressed through the Vine and the Branches imagery, last week it was expressed in Jesus command to love one another, despite differences of background, culture, and opinion. This week that unity is expressed as all believers being drawn into the mystery of the Holy Trinity of Love. Jesus says in verse 20-21: “may those who believe in me be one. As you Father, are in me and I am in you, may they also be in us.” Let me repeat that and give you a moment to let it sink in. are you ready…“may those who believe in me be one. As you Father, are in me and I am in you, may they also be in us.”
There is another thing in this prayer of Jesus’ that we as his 21st century disciples must take note of; Jesus makes it clear that the disciples mission is an extension of his mission, that the world may believe that God has acted in history, reaching out to all of us, in and through God in the flesh, Jesus Christ.
Some of you know that while I am here with you at Carlingford I am completing my Batchelor of Theology degree with a project I am loosely calling “Words of Hope to Aging and Declining Congregations’. During the week I presented my findings so far to my supervising lecturer. I began to speak about mission and evangelism as the most misunderstood aspects of Christian discipleship. My lecturer then asked me to explain what I meant by “mission” because this word can have many meanings depending on context. Well, I stumbled and stammered and couldn’t express my own definition, it was quite embarrassing.
So I ask you all, what is our mission? Is it maintaining a building, is it in preserving faith traditions, is it in being good people, is it in trying to keep the church budget afloat or is it ‘putting bums on seats’. It’s confusing isn’t it? Perhaps like Jesus original disciples we need to hear again the simplicity of our mission as being the ones who live in the unity, hope, and joy of Christ and reflect God’s love brightly for all others to see.
To recap that , let me read to you a wonderful mission statement,
Our mission is to be a living presence of God in the community, following the example of Christ, so that all may experience God’s transforming love.
That is the mission statement of Carlingford Uniting church. May God bless, empower, and enable us in all our endeavours.
Hymn: Tis 547 The church’s one foundation
Prayers of Intercession and The Lord’s Prayer
Loving and compassionate God who is ever-present. We are grounded in your love. We remember the words of Jesus to “love your neighbour”.
We pause to bring our concerns and prayers for others, before you. Not as a fix it list for you to remedy, but to remind ourselves that we have a responsibility to care for each other as well as ourselves.
Praise God for the many blessings that we have received, known by each of us in our hearts.
We celebrate the blessing that we live in a peaceful country where we are free to worship and share our beliefs, feelings and concerns openly.
At this time of upheaval and distress for nations and people across our world, may your love hold us together.
We think especially of the needs of families. Families in all their forms. Families with a Mum and Dad and children, single-parent families, blended families, families with same-sex parents, families with adopted children, families with disabled children, displaced families, refugee families, families in detention centres. The tensions, stresses and things that might be challenging households at this time, as well as the things that enrich and strengthen them and the joys of family life.
We pray for those countries where COVID 19 is out of control and where the consequences are impacting on so many families. We pray that the vaccine will be readily available to those most in need, both locally and for smaller countries that do not have the same access as bigger more powerful countries. Our prayers and thanks are for the scientists who are developing the COVID vaccines, and for those who are tasked with administering the doses.
Our prayer is for peace in countries where there is conflict . We pray for those countries at war. May their leaders be guided to call off the fighting and settle their disputes without bloodshed.
Gracious and loving God, You call us to love you with our whole being, and to love our neighbours as ourselves. May your love be the lens through which we see each other, and your world. Lord Jesus Christ, you are present with us, as one who knows our suffering, bring comfort and peace to all those who are grieving the loss of loved ones at this time. We especially think of those in our Church Family who are ill or undergoing treatment. We pray for those known to us in care.
We pray for Gail, our leader, as she ministers with us, and for our congregation here at Carlingford.
We pray for our Church here in Carlingford - for Wow, for mainly music – for the team as they pray and encourage the young families that attend. We pray for ourselves as a Church.
We thank you that we are encouraged to meet with other Churches in our community – to seek new ideas and enthusiasm to reach out to others.
“We are at an important crossroads as a Church. It is an opportunity moment for the Uniting Church, and our church here in Carlingford, to rethink who it is, and who we engage with as a community.
Let’s not retreat, but re-frame how the Church can operate in our society and the world. Let's be the community that God wants us to be”. AMEN
Let us pray the prayer that Jesus taught us….
Our Father in heaven hallowed be your name, Your kingdom come
your will be done on earth as in heaven. Give us today our daily bread
and forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us.
Save us from the time of trial and deliver us from evil
for the kingdom, the power, and the glory are yours, now and forever,
What we give as our offering is an opportunity to make the world a more just and peaceful place.
May these gifts be like trees planted along streams of water, may they flourish and grow, bring happiness and delight. Amen.
Hymn: Here I am Lord
We have been caught up in the loving relationship that exists between God the Father and God the Son, and this changes the way we live in the world. We are the voices that call for justice and the agents of God’s transforming love. Go in grace and peace to love and serve the Lord.
Next Sunday: 23 May 2021
Ezekiel 37:1-14, Acts 2:1-21,
Romans 8:22-27 and John 15:26-27, 16:4b-15